Life in the Fishbowl

Living by the Todd Family Motto: "It behooves us to live."

Life in the Fishbowl - Living by the Todd Family Motto: "It behooves us to live."

Star Wars spoilers and a new The Force Awakens trailer (with footnotes)

Star Wars The Force Awakens - no spoilers

A long time ago…

Back when they did the Star Wars Special Edition releases in 1997, I became a big fan of the website that was known as Red 5. The site leaked all kinds of information about the changes that were expected. I’m sure I visited that site several times a day in anticipation of this re-release. I’m a bit ashamed to admit it, but when the movies were finally released, I almost felt a little bit of Star Wars fatigue.

I know. That’s borderline blasphemy.

But it’s true. And I think some of it had to do with the fact that I was following all of the leaked information so closely in the months and weeks leading up to the release.

Fast-forward to Episode I.

I pretty much knew the whole story before the movie was released, thanks to leaks, the song listing on the Phantom Menace soundtrack, and Weird Al Yankovic.

So I left the movie feeling…underwhelmed. While I know the film could never live up to the hype generated by the 16 year buildup of anticipation between Return of the Jedi and The Phantom Menace, the movie itself falls pretty flat (no, this isn’t a reference to the 3D re-release. I almost kind of liked that one, oddly enough). I’m convinced that part of my initial lackluster response to Episode I had a little bit to do with having been inundated with spoilers during the time leading up to the film’s release.

Don’t get me wrong. Episode I was awful. It’s still awful. But it was made even more awful-er because of the spoilers.

Yep. The spoilers spoiled the movie. That’s why they’re called spoilers.

No more spoilers.

When Episode III came around, I avoided spoilers like the plague. I did a pretty good job, for the most part. Still managed to find out ahead of time that Anakin becomes Darth Vader and that Chancellor Palpatine becomes Emperor Palpatine.* But other than that, I was able to attend the midnight showing of Revenge of the Sith without knowing very much about how this pivotal film was going to unfold.** I left the movie in awe at what I had experienced.

With the new onslaught of spoilers,‡ leaked information, and marketing overdrive that’s already happening, my Spidey-spoiler-senses are on heightened alert. I’m not sure I’m going to be able to make it until December‡‡ without unintentionally stumbling upon some unwelcome spoilers, but I’m going to try.º And I’m convinced that this will make my Star Wars: The Force Awakens experience even more memorable as I watch it at the midnight showing with my family.ºº You’re welcome to follow all the spoilers/leaks/speculations that you’d like. It’s your prerogative. But please don’t share them with me. I’d like to experience this new entry into the Star Wars saga with as few preconceived ideas as possible.

Besides, this whole avoiding spoilers and leaks and all things behind the scenes from the upcoming film thing also makes days like today even more exciting. This little gem was released on instagram today. It’s a new The Force Awakens trailer:

There has been an awakening… #StarWars #TheForceAwakens

A video posted by Star Wars (@starwars) on


It’s only a few seconds long, but, oh man. This gets me excited. December 18th can’t get here soon enough.

It will be a day long-remembered.

* Yes. That’s a geek’s lame attempt at a joke.
** This experience did lead me to swear off midnight showings altogether because I had a final the next day. That was miserable.
In spite of my best efforts, I’ve heard a few leaks and theories about Han Solo’s role in the movie. I have an idea for a twist that few people would see coming. But I’m not going to talk about it here. I might save that for another post.
‡‡ Why, oh why wasn’t this released in May?
º Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know what you’re going to say:

ºº Did I just say that I swore off midnight showings? I’m pretty sure there’s a clause in that oath that exempts watching Star Wars releases with your teenagers who have never seen Star Wars on the big screen (except for Episode I 3D, which really doesn’t count).

A tale of two Star Wars Days

I’m about to get my geek on. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

A Star Wars Day Hipster

I remember making a “May the 4th” reference several years ago. I think I might have still been in grad school at the time. I thought the play on words was fun. So I shared it as an update on a social network – possibly on Myspace, but maybe on Facebook. I don’t remember the specifics and I can’t find the status anywhere, but I remember saying something like “Happy Star Wars Day! May the Fourth be with you! (Yes, it’s corny. Don’t kill the messenger)” And I do know that the earliest reference I can find on this blog is from 2007. Once I learned about this quirky day, I was determined to celebrate it the following year.

And I did.

May the 4th be with you

A few other Star Wars geeks mentioned Star Wars Day. With a wink and a nod, I noticed a few more references to the Day that following year. And the year after that. But there really weren’t very many people making that big of a deal about May 4th. And that was OK. I was kind of used to being a loner when it came to being a fan of Star Wars. But it eventually caught on. So you could say that I liked Star Wars Day back before it was cool.

I guess that makes me some kind of Star Wars Day Hipster.

Jumping on the Bandwagon

When I logged onto facebook on May 4 of this year, I was kind of shocked at what I saw. It seemed like everyone and their brother was posting about May 4th and Star Wars Day. In some ways, it warmed my heart. Continue reading

7 lines I love to quote from Star Wars

This post contains affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a small percentage of the sale if you make a purchase using the link.

Limited Edition, $11 shirts at TeeFury.com!

One day not too long ago, while Aiden and I were driving home from some event, I had to make a quick stop at a store. Aiden didn’t want to go inside, so I told him he could stay in the car. Since he’s 14 years old, there wasn’t any danger of him getting too hot in the car. I left the car running because it was going to be a quick dash in and out of the store. That way, he could stay cool with the air conditioner on and he could listen to whatever tunes he wanted to hear. I could get in and out without having to wait on him. It was a win-win proposition.

As I stepped out of the car, I turned to Aiden and said one of the lines from Star Wars that I love to quote:

“Lock the door. And hope they don’t have blasters.”

In case you’re unfamiliar with that quote, it’s Luke and Han’s response to C-3PO when he asks what the droids should do if they’re discovered in the Death Star. But you already knew that. Right? Of course you did. If not, I highly recommend watching A New Hope again. After all, it’s my favorite movie. It should be yours, too. Unless The Empire Strikes Back is your favorite. Or Return of the Jedi. Those are great choices, too.

I realized as I walked away from the car that I use that line a lot. In fact, I find myself saying this almost every time I ask one of the kids to lock a door. Then I realized that I use several lines from Star Wars in everyday conversation on a regular basis.

So here they are, in no particular order. Seven lines I love to quote from Star Wars.

7 lines I love to quote from Star Wars Continue reading

A is for Astronaut

A is for Astronaut - A to Z ChallengeThroughout most of my elementary school career, I wanted to be an astronaut. There were a few moments where I wanted to be a lion tamer. But mostly, I wanted to be an astronaut. I never really thought of being a lion taming astronaut. That would’ve been pretty sweet. Can you imagine taming Martian lions? Or what about bears on Venus? Or wrestling Saturn’s tigers?

Interstellar lions. And tigers. And bears.

Oh my.

But seriously, I really wanted to be an astronaut for a long time. I think a large cross-section of my generation had similar aspirations. And it wasn’t just because of Star Wars (although I suspect it might have had something to do with it. Maybe. Or maybe the two worked hand-in-hand. I loved Star Wars and I loved all things space. My love for Star Wars encouraged my love for space exploration. And my love for space exploration encouraged my love for Star Wars. It was a symbiotic relationship.

But then the unthinkable happened.

The Challenger exploded and everything changed. I think my dream, along with the dream of many other elementary school students, died that day. Don’t get me wrong. I have no delusions that I would have actually been able to become an astronaut. My woeful math skills and limited science expertise kind of helped slam that door shut.

But I still think quite a bit about space exploration, space travel, and discovering worlds unknown. I still get chills when I stand in the presence of capsules that have been into space. And yes, I’m still kicking myself for skipping out on the final Space Shuttle landing. On some clear nights, I stand outside and gaze into the sky. The unknown of the Final Frontier gently tugs at me. And I fantasize about visiting a galaxy far, far away.

I still find myself wondering what might have been. What would I have looked like in an astronaut suit?

Astronaut Matt Todd

And there you have it. Pretty impressive. Right?

**I’m participating in the April A to Z Challenge. This post is part of that endeavor. A lot of people are doing the same thing. You should check out some of their posts!**

It’s 2015. Welcome to the Future.

2015 fireworks

This is it. It’s finally the year we find out if any of the 2015 that Marty McFly experienced actually comes true. With Back to the Future Day, The Avengers: Age of Ultron and the awakening of the Force on the big screen, 2015 promises to be a HUGE year for geeks like me who are into such things.

Whether you’re excited about these things or not, I hope 2015 is an amazing year for you, dear reader. I hope that the worst day of this year is better than the best day of 2014. I pray that the Divine reveals Himself to all of us in ways we can’t possibly imagine. Let’s change the world this year.

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace. Numbers 6:24-26

The Future is NOW. Let’s make 2015 a year for the record books!

Happy New Year!

The Star Wars: The Force Awakens teaser is REALLY here!

Well, here it is, kids! After several fan-made versions faked out legions of fans this week (I’m sure Admiral Ackbar is shouting about how it was a trap), the official version of Star Wars: The Force Awakens was released about an hour ago.

I have to admit that I was so excited about the release that I hooked the laptop to our big TV so I could watch it in as close to theatre as possible. I should’ve popped popcorn, but I didn’t. I’ll remember to do that next time, though.

I’m still not happy that they’re releasing the film in December instead of the traditional May (it is Star Wars month, after all), but after seeing this teaser, I’m also not happy that I’ll have to wait a whole ‘nother year before this film’s released!

And that lightsaber seems kind of strange. But I’m sure I’ll grow to love it.

Wait till next year…

I’ll bet you thought I forgot. I’ll bet you thought I was going to just let this series of posts fade away like Wonderful Wookiee Wednesday and Flashback Friday (which started waaaay before the whole Throwback Thursday trend. Yet again, I’m a trend-setter) and Thankful Thursday.

I’m happy to say that you were wrong.

2015 fireworks

It’s just taken me a while to finish this sentence:

“Next year looks better to me because…”

….things are in place for 2015 to be a dream year. Obviously, I cannot predict the future. But here are some things I would love to see happen by the end of next year:

    • I will be helping out a local nonprofit organization or two, utilizing the marketing skills I learned during my place of previous employment. It might not pay much, but that’s OK. We’re going to change the world.
    • We will finally be a family of six.
    • I will finally complete the One Year Bible. I started it back in…oh…2012. And I’m currently on track to complete it December 26, 2014. I suspect that end date might change. Unfortunately.
    • I will knock off a few items on my “Things I Want to Do” List. Like, maybe #1 (Go to the Men’s Final Four – it’s in Indy next year), #9 (Attend the Indianapolis 500), #31 (Visit Lincoln’s Tomb), #32 (Grow a Garden), and #88 & #89 (Build and Launch a Model Rocket with my Kids).
    • Maybe I will have figured out a way to have a getaway with Christy. A week would be awesome, but I’d be just as happy with just a night or two at this point.
    • There’s this little thing called Star Wars Episode VII that’s scheduled to come out in 2015. I just might have to take the family to a midnight showing of that on opening night.
    • Maybe Aiden will go fishing with me and my dad at Bennett Spring.
    • My story about a snowpocalypse falling upon Indy will be complete and I will be well on my way to finishing my story about a colony on Mars.

Since 2015 starts just a few months from now, it’s time to get cracking and lay the groundwork for what could very well be the most epic year of all time. You hear me?

Of.
all.
time.

For the Love of Star Wars

For the love of Star Wars

by Daniel Ellis

When Matt contacted me and asked if I would like to write about the impact Star Wars has had on me.  I was immediately excited by the prospect.  Who doesn’t want to talk about Star Wars, right?  After my initial excitement, though, I started to panic because I didn’t have a ready answer other than “duuhhh, lots of ways”.  I figured anybody who read this would want something a tad more substantial, so I reached out with my feelings realized two things that Star Wars gave to me: imagination and nostalgia.

I was born in 1976, 14 months before Star Wars blasted its way into theaters.  Some of my first memories are of TIE-Fighters, Burger King trading cards, the Droid Factory and Death Star play sets, and turning every stick or branch into a light saber.  From the point that I was retaining memory, Star Wars was a large part of my life and a huge inspiration for my imagination.  The ability to imagine, using my mind to create a place and time which I am currently not inhabiting, is a gift that Star Wars gave to me.

Star Wars is such a complex creation, full of fantastical situations and environments.  My young mind went to those exotic planets often in my playtime.  When I rode my bike, I saw the tall trees of Endor, and the sleek nose of the speeder bike extended beyond my handlebars.  When I put my army surplus belt on and shoved my toy Mauser pistol into the canteen pouch, I was Han Solo standing down a squad of Storm Troopers.  When I found thick grapevines hanging across a ravine behind Mansfield General Hospital, it was time to go to Dagobah and train to become a Jedi.  I yearned to visit those places, be those characters, and fight that good fight.

But wait, there’s more!  Star Wars did something else for me as well.  I had so much fun with my imagination throughout my childhood, but as I grew older, I moved on from the play-acting that was so much fun.  As I focused more on grades and girls, I forgot about how important Star Wars was to me until that fateful year when Lucas decided to re-release THE Star Wars trilogy for its twentieth anniversary.  I was a junior in college when word got around that Episodes 4, 5, and 6 were coming to a theater near us.  When I saw those trailers on the screen, the memory of loving imagination came back to me, and I discovered a love of nostalgia through re-discovering the Star Wars movies from a social perspective.  Sure, I owned the movies on VHS, but now I was experiencing the excitement and expectation of the movies’ coming to the theater through the connections and friends I made that year; all based on a love of Star Wars.

As I near forty (less than two years away!), I find that I have a strong connection to anything that reminds me of my beloved childhood moments of “playing Star Wars”.  That strong nostalgia also endeared to me the memory of the amazing imagination that I had as a child, and guess what?  I still have it!  I still see those Endor trees when I jump on a bike, and I still see a light saber in every branch that I pull out of our yard before I mow.  I will always be grateful to Mr. Lucas for creating something that instilled in me the ability to still embrace the imagination of a child when I want to.  I can’t wait to experience that joy with my son when he’s old enough to enjoy these movies.  By the way, when Episode 8 comes to theaters, my son Rhys will be about the age I was when Episode 5 debuted.  Is that a coincidence or just simple tricks and nonsense?  I don’t know for sure, but I’m going to imagine that it’s the ways of the Force telling me that Star Wars was good for me.

************************************

Dan and I met at Milligan. During our Senior year, we duked it out in a campus-wide Star Wars trivia contest. We wound up tied for first because they ran out of questions. So we shared the prizes. Dan and Will are the only other people I know who had the Droid Factory as a kid. So when I started thinking about Star Wars MONTH, I knew I needed to have his insight because we share a similar love for Star Wars. And that love runs deep.

Thanks, Dan, for writing this! The Force will be with you. Always.

Confessions of an Addict

Confessions of a Star Wars Addict

by Will Oates

For most of the 80s I was totally addicted.  I couldn’t conquer my addiction, and I didn’t really want to.  It was a fantastical groovy trip every time I revisited it.  The colors, the sounds, the rush.  Many didn’t understand my addiction, but there were others who were into the the epic scene I was taken in by.  If you were born in the mid 70s or 80s you, like me, may have tried this drug and were addicted too. You are probably also blown away when people tell you that they haven’t even tried it or, if they have tried it, they didn’t find it appealing.  Of course the drug I speak of is, was, and shall be Star Wars.  It was giant space cruisers knocking each other back and forth with laser bolts. It was people saying things I didn’t understand like “kessel run,” “parsecs,” “S-foils.” It was guys with names like Wedge, Porkins, Lando and Jabba.  There were X-Wings, Y-Wings, Tie Fighters, Star Destroyers and of course the Falcon.  And there were midichorians…..OK maybe not the last one so much, but you know what I am talking about if you were hip to the scene.

There has always been something about the original Star Wars movies that resonates with my soul.  I am not by any means a total prequel hater. They had their moments, although they do pale in comparison.  I think being raised in a Christian home, in a small midwest farm town with one blinking red light, I could relate in a big way to many of the classic themes and characters that Star Wars brought forth in a new appealing way.  It is a classic story, nothing particularly new.  A kid from the backwater goes out to win the ultimate battle of good vs. evil and learns valuable lessons along the way.  It clicked with me.  Of course as a kid I thought Han Solo was so cool- he had a cool dog, cool ride, cool gun, cool smirk, and said cool stuff like- “don’t get cocky kid,” “flying through hyperspace ain’t like dusting crops” or “one thing’s for sure we’re all gonna be a lot thinner.”  I wanted to be that smooth, but realistically I was probably more like Luke.  Clueless, awkward, frustrated, and sometimes whiny but eager for something bigger.  I still think Han is the coolest, but Luke had to learn many of the lessons I had to learn- patience, confidence, trust in a power outside of himself, love for friends and family, and just finding his way to maturity.  Luke had the biggest transformation from New Hope to Jedi.  As I have matured and continue to mature, I see that change in myself.  I strive to learn more and become a better person.  I still haven’t mastered my own lightsaber or used the force to get the remote, but I am growing up and still have a lot to learn on my life journey.  Now I understand life is a journey and there will be successes and failures.

As much as I related to Luke, I was terrified of Vader.  He was and continues to be the ultimate bad guy.  My dad hung Star Wars lobby cards in my room as a kid.  As much as I wanted them to be there at bedtime, I couldn’t handle Vader looking down at me as he surveyed the carnage on Tantive IV.  I gave into my fear and the stills had to be taken down.  I was like the guys on the star destroyer that were curiously watching Vader force choke a commander but quickly scurried away when it was over.  He was mysterious and commanding, but you couldn’t look away.  No one could talk back to him except for some reason Boba Fett, Moff Tarkin and the Emperor.  I always wondered why that was, but that’s a question for a different day.  Vader’s journey is as important as Luke’s.  A man so lost he forgot who he was, but the love of his son brought him back.  I can’t relate to being that lost but I do know I constantly fail and love brings me back.

There are many other characters and life lessons that come from Star Wars for me but growing up, love and redemption are the ones that always ring true.  I treasure the Star Wars films and will continue to do so.  They have this uncanny ability to bring people together, and I think that is ultimately what I love so much about them.  I’ve stood in unbearable lines at two Star Wars Celebrations in Indianapolis but gabbing and joking with fellow fans made the wait worthwhile.  At college, my good friend Noelle begged and begged the pimple faced usher to let us into the press screening of Star Wars Special Edition a night early.  He finally relented, we got in, I got to see New Hope on the big screen for the first time and she promptly fell asleep.  I got to go the next night and see it again with a theater full of fellow fans from Milligan College and it was amazing.  There are so many other fond memories of Star Wars and friends.  I can’t wait to further share my Star Wars adventures with my 2 year old son and my daughter.  I hear Episode VII may have a major young female character; I hope she can relate.  My son Liam has a blanket from Celebration Europe with the A-Z’s of Star Wars.  We’re working the characters- so far we have Vader, Chewbacca, D2, and Trooper down.  He’s my padawan and I hope he finds as many great friends and great times in name of Star Wars as I have.  I could continue on with memories but I will end with this this quote from one of my favorite bands Gaelic Storm. They sum up my Star Wars experience the best, “if good times were dollars I would be a millionaire” If I had a buck for every great Star Wars friend or experience I’ve had, I’d be rich.  The good thing is that I’m not like Han in this respect “if money is all that you love, then that’s what you’ll receive.”  In the end even Han realized it was more about friends than it was the payoff.

*********************************

Will and I met at Milligan. We have two very strong bonds: Star Wars and intramural softball. We were on the same team for a couple of years and while I don’t want to toot my own horn, the Quaker Oats were pretty good. As I plotted out what I was going to do in recognition of Star Wars MONTH, I knew I needed to have Will share his story. As you can see, I wasn’t wrong. Thanks, Will, for sharing your story!

If you, dear reader, have a story to tell about your Star Wars experience, I’d love to hear it! Shoot me an email and we’ll get the ball rolling!